We understand that staying healthy is imperative to their well-being of our seniors, but what is often overlook is that their attitudes and living habits also have an effect on their overall health. As the baby boomer generation is reaching the retirement age, we are seeing a larger number than before of seniors over the age of 65. And of those, 11 million, or 28% of people over the age of 65, lived alone in 2010 (and as they get older, the likelihood of living alone only increases).

Living alone doesn’t lead to isolation specifically, as long as the senior engages in social activities. Maintaining social contacts, however, becomes harder and harder due to various reasons such as retirement, death, and lack of mobility. Also important to note is that the experience of isolation can’t solely be judged on the reality you might see; it is how your senior perceives or interprets their social connections. Someone very involved, living with others, etc, can still feel isolated and thus, experience the negative health effects of the loneliness.

Researchers have found that senior isolation increases risk of mortality and that the feelings of loneliness can negatively affect both the physical and mental health. Perceived loneliness is linked to poor cognitive performance and quicker cognitive decline contributing to an increased risk of dementia.

A simple start to making sure your senior isn’t feeling isolated is to schedule frequent phone calls or visits to keep in contact and connected to your loved one. These are also important in noticing any mood changes. It is also important to keep them engaged in healthy activities they enjoy- seniors suffering from isolation tend to engage in poor health habits such as a poor diet, lack of physical activity, and smoking- so by encouraging activities such as fitness classes can prove to be very beneficial. Keeping your senior sharp with stimulating meaningful activities will improve not only their physical and mental health, but also their happiness.

For activities in the East Bay, Senior Helpers of Moraga suggests you check out Moraga Movers for bridge games, Walnut Creek Senior Center for book clubs, or join a Seniorcise class in Lafayette. All of these places also offer many other activities worthy of checking out.

Senior Helpers also offers companionship for your senior in Danville, Alameda, and other parts of the East Bay. For more information call (925)-268-8327 or visit our website.

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